In the competitive luxury hospitality market, customer loyalty is key — and Constance Hotels & Resorts aims to deliver consistently excellent experiences. The group uses a social business network to empower its people with the skills to offer the highest-quality services — nurturing loyalty and team collaboration.
Fulfilling the Brand Promise
“Success in the luxury hospitality space is all about the ‘wow’ factor,” explains Roshan Koonja, Group Chief Information Officer at Constance Hotels & Resorts. “To build valuable, lifelong relationships with our customers, we need to deliver the highest-quality experiences every time they stay with us.”
Nurturing customer loyalty is an important aspect of Constance Hotels & Resorts’ long-term strategy.
Roshan Koonja continues: “Our business has expanded rapidly in the last few years, and our first hotel in Mauritius is now part of a group of hotels and resorts extending across a number of islands in the Indian Ocean.
“Our employees are our face to the customer, and to keep our brand promise consistent across all our locations, it’s essential that we give our people the right training, mentorship and resources. When we only operated a small number of hotels, it was relatively straightforward to train our new employees — but as our business grew, we realized this approach was quickly becoming unsustainable.
“We have a naturally high turnover of employees, many of whom are working with us for a year between finishing college and starting university. And with more than 19 different nationalities working at a single resort, it was difficult to optimize our training methodology to account for cultural differences.
“To communicate our core values to our employees effectively, we needed a better way to collaborate across our global organization, and we looked for a partner to help us achieve the goal.”
To solve its collaboration challenges, Constance Hotels & Resorts selected HCL Connections and HCL Verse.
“When you’re on an island, you’re disconnected from the world,” says Roshan Koonja. “This is a wonderful experience for our guests, but it can be a nightmare from an operations perspective! While our group marketing and finance teams work in a central location on fixed workstations, many of our customer-facing employees work on islands with very limited online access. Because our employees work in a range of different environments, and it was crucial to have a solution that could accommodate those unique requirements.
“Initially, we were considering Microsoft Office 365 software, and were moving forward with a proof-of-concept exercise. However, when HCL demonstrated the HCL Connections solution, we realized we could enable employees at our headquarters and sales offices to work together and deploy on-premises environments to support people with restricted access to the internet. Practically all of our customer-facing employees own a smartphone, and the HCL platform transforms their mobile devices into our own social business network.
“We were very impressed with the speed and stability of the HCL team’s proof-of-concept deployment for HCL Connections and decided that the solution was the right choice to drive our future-looking people strategy.”
He continues: “Another aspect of the HCL solution that impressed us was the HCL Verse email solution. Because Verse is powered by a cognitive computing engine, it can surface the most relevant information automatically — enabling our people to see urgent items that need their attention as soon as they log in.”
Constance Hotels & Resorts worked closely with HCL to configure and deploy its new collaboration platform.
“Working with HCL was a rewarding experience,” recalls Roshan Koonja. “As well as running demonstrations to show us what we could achieve with HCL Connections, HCL provided us with best practices for deployment and change management. We knew that driving adoption of the platform would take time, but by embracing a grass-roots approach to deployment — championed by influencers in each part of the business — we quickly started to build momentum.”
He continues: “Our decision to adopt the HCL Connections platform was more than an IT project — it marked the beginning of a wholesale transformation in our collaboration philosophy. We are now encouraging people from across the business to share their ideas using the HCL platform, and showing them that their input has a tangible, positive impact on the way the business is run.”
Building Loyalty-Driving Customer Experiences
With a social business network enabling effective collaboration across its global business, Constance Hotels & Resorts is creating highly effective training and mentoring programs for new employees.
“The vast majority of our new employees are millennials, and they are among the most active users of HCL Connections” says Roshan Koonja. “Our new hires are interviewed in their home countries via video calls, and we wanted to enable them to get the most value out of their training by beginning the process even before they arrived to start work.
“We have now created a Connections community that provides information on where and when trainees need to check in, their induction schedule and the policies and values of the company. Better still, new employees can ask their peers directly if they are unsure about anything and get the answers they need straight away.”
He continues: “In the past, we relied heavily on travel to run our training programs. However, because our ability to communicate was limited, there was always a risk that key people would be away by the time we arrived — reducing effectiveness and increasing our costs.
“We have now opened up a wide range of communication channels to train our people, including communities, videos, wikis and more. And because we now track vacation and medical leave in Connections, we can ensure that when we fly out to an island, all the people we need to meet with will be available. The result is that our people are better equipped than ever to deliver services that reflect our values and keep the brand promise.”
By opening up its HCL Connections platform to people inside and outside the organization, Constance Hotels & Resorts is bringing new customer-facing services to market faster than ever.
“We often work together with consultants when we are developing a new offering,” explains Roshan Koonja. “For example, we recently engaged an external vendor to help us develop a kids’ club experience for our resorts. In the past, our consultants would have had to fly frequently between islands to coordinate multiple different stakeholder groups. This was a costly and complex process that could take as long as three months to complete.
“Thanks to HCL Connections, that’s all changed. By bringing all of the relevant people together in a single community, our consultant was able to develop best practices for the experience and build a training program for our employees in under four weeks — 70% faster than would have been possible with the previous way of working.
“Innovation can be a powerful source of competitive differentiation, and it’s amazing to see the great ideas our people can give us when we enable them to. After launching the kids’ club, our resorts got into a friendly competition to see how many different activities they could run, and published pictures to the shared Connections community. One of our employees spontaneously started a cooking class, which was a big hit with the kids — and soon, employees at all our resorts started doing it. Examples like this are a perfect illustration of how collaboration can help unleash the hidden potential of your people.”
Looking to the future, Constance Hotels & Resorts sees that HCL Connections will help it continue to attract top talent to the business.
“Our new hires are digital natives, more used to using services such as Facebook and WhatsApp to communicate than traditional tools such as email,” says Roshan Koonja. “By embracing a collaboration solution, we are in a strong position to attract the best millennial applicants.”
HCL Connections makes it even easier for people across our worldwide business to work together. By empowering our people to share ideas, experience, and knowledge, we can keep offering the highest quality of service to our customers.
— Roshan Koonja
Constance Hotels & Resorts
About the company
Established in 1975, Constance Hotels & Resorts is a group of luxury five-star hotels and resorts in the Indian Ocean. Headquartered in Mauritius, the group also operates in the Seychelles, Maldives, and Madagascar, with sales offices in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Korea.
To learn more about HCL Collaboration Solutions, please contact your HCL representative or HCL Business Partner and schedule a demo.